Timber smugglers attack Forest party in Sopore; 15 officials injured, 6 vehicles damaged
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Jan 1: Fifteen officials of Forest Department were injured and six vehicles damaged when timber smugglers in Sopore area of Baramulla district, in northern Kashmir, attacked them during a series of raids in Rampora forests.
Officials in Sopore told STATE TIMES that immediately after receiving SOS from the Forest party, a Police team swung into action and got the badly trapped rescued from Rampora Rajpora forest cover of Kandi in the evening on Sunday. Case FIR No: 2/2017 has been registered against the assailants who are said to have damaged six vehicles and caused injuries to 15 officials of Forest Department and Forest Protection Force (FPF). Sources said that the accused named by the complainants would be arrested and some of them could be detained under Public Safety Act.
DFO Kamraj, Mohammad Ayub Sheikh, told STATE TIMES over telephone from Sopore that on specific information he had earlier on Sunday organised a major raid on the houses of the timber smugglers and the people who were known to have dumped the illegally felled trees and timber on their premises. DFO Langate Mohammad Ayub Pandit and Deputy Directors of FPF units of Kupwara and Baramulla were also in the raiding party comprising 100 to 150 officials.
“As we recovered a quantity of the illegally acquired timber from some houses, the timber smugglers along with the residents mounted an organised attack on our party. They attacked our officials with lathis, axes, sharp-edged weapons and stones and left 15 of us injured. Six of our vehicles, including two private Tata Sumo vehicles, were badly damaged in the attack. One of our critically injured employees was prevented from reaching the hospital and held in wrongful confinement. A Police official in that area provided us shelter till we contacted SDM Sopore, Sopore Police and CCF Kashmir through a WiLL phone as there is no mobile connectivity in that area. Thereafter a Police party arrived in and it rescued it”, DFO Kamraj Mr Sheikh said.
DFO Kamraj added that with the help of the Police party, his team persisted with the raid and seized around 130 cubic-foot of timber from several houses. He said that the injured were evacuated and later treated at Sopore. “We have prepared PSA detention cases against 10 timber smugglers and their helpers. We are submitting these cases to DC Baramulla tomorrow”, Mr Sheikh added. He said that Rampora was a notorious hub of the timber smugglers where the illegal felling of conifer trees and timber smuggling had not been fully neutralised, notwithstanding several raids and seizures and detentions under PSA in the last 10 years.